A real busy year ahead for the auto industry

MOTORING TODAY - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - January 26, 2016 - 9:00am

There are no ifs and buts about it. At the rate things are going and events developing, the country’s automobile industry may be facing a real busy year ahead, a kind of year never seen before.

It’s just the first month and already two of the country’s top selling mid size SUVs, both in their all-new versions were introduced to the market just a week apart from each other.

And only yesterday a new company was launched to re-introduce a brand that was here over a decade back but didn’t quite make it for reasons other than the vehicle itself.

And just last year, the industry registered total sales that were only wished for, for many, many years and a growth rate for this year that was never even imagined in the past not even during the industry’s past glory days of the mid 90s.

And for us motoring journalists, who knows how much rest or absence of rest lies ahead for us while in the midst of this maelstrom of activities.

All-new Toyota Fortuner

For starters, Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) launched the All-New Fortuner at the Manila Marriot Hotel simultaneous with their always well-attended yearly Media Thanksgiving Party, perhaps considering that just a day before they also had a huge event, that time at the Makati Shangri-La, which was the official turnover of TMP’s presidency.

The Toyota Fortuner was first introduced to the Philippine market in 2005 and it’s only this year that it comes with a full model change.

“Our concept was to build a true SUV that has a style and confidence. The all-new Fortuner is the outcome of our continuous efforts to redefine toughness,” was how its executive chief engineer, Hiroki Nakajima described the efforts behind the full model change of this top-selling SUV.

With its name derived from the word “fortunate,” the Fortuner, now in its all-new version, comes with a longer and wider stance than its previous generation. Its seven variants are composed of two 4x4s and five 4x2s with 17-inch alloy wheels for the ‘G’ grade while the ‘V’ grade comes shoed with 18 inches.

Some of the new features of the all-new Fortuner include front, driver knee, side and curtain shield airbags, a drive mode selection of either a more fuel efficient or more powerful drives, touchscreen audio with navigational and multi-information display, push start system, smart keyless entry to lock and unlock the vehicle and to start and stop the engine among others.

The different variants have similar 4-cylinder, 16 valve diesel engines with a size range of 2.8 liters and 2.4 liters and an SRP range of P2,141,000.00 for the top-of-the-line to P1,386,000.00 for the entry level model.

There’s more to it than what’s written here. A test drive of the All-New Fortuner would be most informative.

All-new Mitsubishi Montero Sport

A few days later it was the turn of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) to launch at the World Trade Center what was for a good number of years the country’s top-selling midsize SUV, the Montero Sport, also on its latest all-new generation.

Fully redesigned after seven years, the All-New Montero Sport comes in 4 variants, one with Manual transmission with the rest in Automatic, all with 2.4-liter diesel engines.

Aside from the All-New Montero Sport now coming with a “first in its class” 8-speed automatic transmission, it also banners a Super-Select II 4WD System with a dial-type selector for a choice of ‘off-road mode’ or ‘all-terrain’ performance. All variants are shoed with 18-inch wheels with its top-of-the-line GT model coming with a sunroof.

For its safety features, this new generation now comes with Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM), which gives audible and visual warnings when a possible collision appears eminent and eventually produces a high brake pressure when it becomes inevitable to mitigate the damage. It also comes with 7 airbags for better protection.

Technological features of the All-New Montero Sport include Hill Start Assist (HSA), which prevents it from rolling back while on a hill climb and Hill Descend Control (HDC) to control vehicle speed without losing traction while on the way down.  

The price of the All-New Mitsubishi Montero Sport ranges from P1,998,000.00 for its top-of-the-line GT 4x4 model to P1,500,000.00 for its entry-level 2x2 automatic variant.

Nothing beats an up close and personal look to better get acquainted. Go for a test drive to better explore the All-New Mitsubishi Montero Sport.

SsangYong makes a comeback

I remember when SsangYong vans were quite in demand sometime in the 90s, only to become suddenly unavailable. But unlike some of the other brands that came and went leaving some unsavory memories, I don’t remember encountering anyone with such from this one. So seeing it back on Philippine shores may be a welcome sight.

And a big comeback it is making with no less than the huge Malaysian-based business conglomerate, Berjaya Group of Companies behind SsangYong Berjaya Motor Philippines, Inc., to handle its exclusive importation and distribution in the country.

And guess who’s been tapped to handle the reins?

An industry veteran capably backed by a vast 25-year experience of marketing, sales and operations—Mr. David M. Macasadia, no less as Managing Director.   

Dave or “Mr. Mac”, as he is fondly addressed by those who have had the privilege to work with or under him, carries impressive credentials that obviously made him a top choice to take on the challenge of reinvigorating the SsangYong brand. And immediately before this new assignment, he was the man to go for the very sensitive Customer Relations concerns of Berjaya Auto Philippines, the same responsibility he had when he retired from Ford Group Philippines (FGP). And having been the Managing Director for Mazda during the time when it was still with FGP makes him no stranger in running a brand of global stature.

In a statement that SsangYong Berjaya Motor Philippines released to the media during its official launch at the Manila Polo Club yesterday, SsangYong was described as South Korea’s fourth largest automotive manufacturer. With 60 years of vehicle manufacturing heritage, it has established itself as a leading SUV maker. Starting off as a manufacturer of jeeps for the US Army along with trucks and buses, SsangYong has evolved into a global brand that is respected for its innovative styling and quality engineering. With a full line-up of SUVs developed from strategic global partnerships, SsangYong has evolved into a premier South Korean automotive company that is ready and equipped to become a true global brand.    

SsangYong’s timely entry into the Philippine market coincides with the recent passage and implementation of the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA), which ensures lower tariff duties for products that include motor vehicles in its objective of strengthening trade and economic relations between ASEAN members and South Korea.  

Congratulations to Dave and welcome to the SsangYong brand.

Online viewing for auto enthusiasts

The TV show Motoring Today, which airs every Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock on Solar Sports can be watched online anytime of the day together with all its past episodes on www.motoringtoday.ph

While Auto Focus, which airs Thursday evening at 10 o’clock also on Solar Sports can be watched online also with all its archived past episodes on www.autofocus.com.ph

Solar Sports can be viewed on Channel 70 on Sky Cable, Channel 35 on Destiny and Channel 55 on Cignal TV.

Happy Motoring!!!

Email: sunshine.television@yahoo.com / motoringtoday-star@stv.com.ph.

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